A diagnosis of dementia affects everyone differently. According to the Mayo Clinic’s magazine, Living with Dementia: A Guide to Caregiving and Support, these reactions can summarized as follows:
Before the diagnosis, individuals and their families may have been frustrated by their inability to explain changes in mood, behavior, and memory. This is why sometimes a diagnosis can provide understanding into the true root cause and help individuals and their families adapt to the new reality.
The diagnosis empowers us to proactively support ourselves or our loved ones to find new ways to support the person living with dementia. The Mayo Clinic suggests that a diagnosis can:
- Give us the answers to those changes in mood, behavior, and memory that we noticed before. Clarity can allow us to focus on what we can change, and acknowledge what we cannot.
- Cognitive changes will be seen for what they are, a part of the disease process, instead of a defect of the individual.
- We can support the older adult to leverage their current abilities to still live a life fully of meaning, focusing on what they can do, instead of dwelling on what they cannot.
- We can prepare ourselves with information, support, and resources for those living with dementia. We can join support teams and learn from other who have gone through the journey.
- Proactively connect and engage with the person living with dementia. Activity and socialization will help slow the disease progression and improve the quality of life.
- Permit the person living with dementia to organize their health and financial legal documents and plan ahead for the future.
The advice from this article come from the Mayo Clinic’s magazine, Living with Dementia: A Guide to Caregiving and Support. Specifically it came from Chapter 1, “Adjusting to a diagnosis”. The original content was published by Meredith Operations Corporation in 2023.